Statewide Ban on Texting and Driving Goes into Effect


Man texting while at the wheel. Photo Credit/ ~W~ via Flickr

Isabella Garcia, Staff Reporter

A law that bans “reading, writing, or sending electronic messages” via a “wireless communication device” will finally become effective in the state of Texas on Sept. 1 in an attempt to decrease the number of fatal accidents due to distracted driving.

Drivers who violate this misdemeanor offense are subject to a fine that can range up to $99 and $200 for any violations that follow. However, in the event that an accident was to result in a serious injury or death, the offender will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor resulting in a fine up to $4,000 and quarantine in jail.

There have been several occasions over the years in which Texas Legislature has attempted to pass a ban that affects all types of drivers. In 2011 a statewide ban was passed only to be vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry. Following that in 2013, another bill was shot down due to the Senate Transportation Committee’s refusal to vote on it. The last attempt, in 2015, was approved in the Texas House Panel only to be dismissed by the Senate.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 62 into law on June 6, making Texas the 47th state to apply a ban against texting for all drivers. Now Abbott is working towards further revising the legislation by seizing any laws introduced by cities and counties in Texas that already regulate mobile device usage in a moving vehicle. There are at least 102 cities in Texas that have previously placed an ordinance in their jurisdiction including, College Station, Austin, and Arlington.

According to the CDC, distracted driving is responsible for the deaths of nine people daily and more than 1,000 injuries. Driving while distracted includes visual, manual, and cognitive distractions. Texting while driving is particularly serious because it is a mix of all three when someone decides to take their eyes, hands, and mind off the road.

Senior, Shiela Mae Capasgordo, commented on the importance of this law and the welfare it will have on all driver.

“I think this law is beneficial for the safety of all drivers, those who text and those who don’t,” said Capasgordo, “because when someone texts and drives everyone on the road is in danger.

Sophomore, Jorge Alvarez, expressed his concern about the law and a reality that most student will not pay much attention to the law until it is too late to do anything.

“I really don’t think students will change just because of this law, not until something bad happens to them,” said Sophomore, Jorge Alvarez, “people don’t usually notice something until it affects them personally.

According to the Rasansky Law Firm, in 2014 there were more than 3,000 people killed and more than 430,00 injured due to car accidents caused by distracted drivers in the U.S. In 2016, there were almost 110,000 accidents in Texas alone. Texting while driving increases a drivers’ chances of getting into a car accident by 23 times.

Some people worry that this law will only give police officers a new excuse to pull drivers over because of how challenging and complicated it will be to enforce. Despite this, this law was made to benefit all types of drivers regardless of their age or what city they live in, in hopes of improving the safety for all Texans.